From the folk lores to the contemporary tales, obsession over virginity has not faded. A penetrative heterosexual intercourse results in the loss of virginity for both the male and the female, but the sociological repercussions for a man and a woman are different. It’s like a woman is a commodity and her virginity is her value.
The sexist concept of virginity reflects the double standards of our society. The imbalance of regret after losing virginity in men and women depicts it all. It is considered as a sacred duty for every woman to provide her husband with a son. If other men get their dirty paws on a woman then it becomes tough for her to assure her counterpart that the baby in her belly is 100 per cent his. So, it is implied on a woman to stay virgin until marriage.
Thinking rationally, one would find that the definition of virginity is subjective. It can be different for different people. Many would see a gay person who has only ever had anal sex as a non-virgin. Many rape victims could think of themselves as virgins as the penetration was forceful. Further, it’s not easy to find out if a person is virgin or not. As the hymen in women can break even without penetrative sexual intercourse.
In 2013, approximately, 450 women were forced to undergo virginity tests in Betul, Madhya Pradesh during a state led mass marriage ceremony. A community marriage was organised under the state’s ‘Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan Yojna’ which provided brides with household items to the tune of Rs 9,000. The virginity tests were justified by maintaining that women who were already married wanted to avail these gifts and thus, they also took part in the ceremony with their counterparts and posing as bride and groom. Now, what if, there was a non-virgin to-be-bride in that ceremony who was actually about to get married for the first time. The state completely neglected the possibilities of that. This happened in an age where people think that their mind-sets have upgraded from medieval times.
Virginity has become a social construct meant to make people, especially women, feel ashamed about their sexual experience. It is a way of policing over other’s body and pronounce judgment on how they use them. The phenomenon, at its very core, is a way of subjugating women.
This reflects that we are living in paradoxical times, where women are excelling in every sphere and yet their chastity is defined by their virginity. But don’t just blame our patriarchal society, rather look deep within yourself as this won’t change until you don’t change.